Armenia’s Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian has visited Georgia four months after hosting his Georgian counterpart Irakli Alasania in Yerevan for talks on growing military cooperation between the two neighboring states.
Ohanian began the two-day official visit on Wednesday with talks with Alasania and Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. News reports said he discussed with them Georgian-Armenian relations and regional security.
Speaking at a news conference in Tbilisi with Ohanian, Alasania said they reviewed ongoing joint activities by the two militaries and mapped out further cooperation between them. “I want to emphasize that Georgian-Armenian relations are a priority for our government. They also play an important role in regional stability,” he said, according to the Armenian Defense Ministry.
“We attach great importance to relations with Georgia because our countries are bound by a historical and centuries-old friendship,” a ministry statement quoted Ohanian as saying.
Ohanian added that Georgian-Armenian military ties have been “dynamically” developing since 2011. He said they focus on mutual “exchange of experience,” military education and training programs, defense planning and participation in multinational peacekeeping operations.
The two ministers already discussed these issues in Yerevan in March. “We have already decided the directions of our cooperation for 2013,” Ohanian said at the time.
Visiting the Armenian capital, Alasania signaled a major change in Tbilisi’s attitude towards Russian troops stationed in Armenia. He said Ivanishvili’s government, which took office in October 2012, does not view them as a threat to Georgia’s national security.
Georgia’s previous government headed by President Mikheil Saakashvili made no secret of its unease over the Russian military presence in Armenia.
It is not clear if a meeting with Saakashvili, who has lost much of his power since October, was on the agenda of Ohanian’s trip to Tbilisi.